This paper provides an analysis of a current pressing food issue. The issue selected for discussion concerns the safety and appropriateness of genetically modified foods. Technology has been lauded as the way to go. No doubt, it has improved the lives of many. In production of genetically modified foods, it has had both the positive effects and the negative ones. Foods have been produced much faster than they would have taken, thanks to the improved technology. On the other hand, there are safety and health concerns, environmental, and economic issues that far outweigh the positives on genetically modified foods. It is hypothesized that GMO Foods are not appropriate means for solving the food problem. Arguments for this are presented below.
The harmful effects of these products are discussed under the following areas. The first one is under health. There is a number of advocacy groups, amongst them Greenspace and World wildlife that have concerns that health risks associated with the effects of the GMO products are not managed properly. They observe that there are high chances of arising of unknown risks to emerge. Investigations on the foods have not been thoroughly conducted. Very few tests on humans have been done. The tests of equivalence done do not show any risks, because they are just comparisons, therefore not adequate study on the harmful effects of GMOs.
In an experiment conducted in the 1990s, Pioneer Hi Bred tried to upgrade the nutritional value of soybeans that were meant for animal consumption. He decided to add a Brazil nut gene. The results from this showed that there was an immune reaction in Brazil nut allergic individuals. There was a different experiment conducted in 2005. Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization developed a field pea that was a pest resistant. Its purpose was a usage as pasture crop; the results showed a cause in allergies in mice. Arnold Pusztai, conducted another research by feeding rats with GMO potatoes. On completion of the experiment, it was evident that this caused stunted growth and repressed immune system to the rats.
In 2007, Gilles published a re-analysis of studies on data from Monsato rat feeding experiment for 3 GM feeding varieties. From the results, he concluded that the food causes liver, kidney and heart damage. The above results are worth noting. There is no doubt about their other benefits, but when it comes to human health, it is paramount that no compromises are made. The fact that they cause such allergies, stunted growth and repressed immune system and have damaging effects on the liver and other body organs, calls for further study on GMO foods and where they are found to be offensive, they be banned from being manufactured. This would help to save the innocent human population from exposure to corporations who manufacture such products.
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The effects on the environment are too of great importance. CRY toxin has the capability of harming predatory and other beneficial or harmless insects as well as the targeted pest insect. A paper published in 1999 showed that under lab conditions, pollen from Bt maize ducted onto milkweed has the potential to harm the monarch butterfly. GMOs have caused more use of herbicides. Herbicide resistant crops were developed, so that desired plants could survive higher amounts of herbicides to kill weeds. The higher amounts of herbicides used causes environmental pollution. This complicates the prospect of attaining an environment that is free of pollution for an improved welfare and state of life.
The adoption of genetically modified foods stands to compromise biodiversity. It would lead to more monoculture, thereby threatening biological diversity in the supply of food (Clive, 1996). Departure from the conventional agricultural products would lead to the exploitation of the environment for the specific use for genetic products. Competition between the two would also lead to the extinction of the former. Their relevance, for example their medicinal value, would be lost. This is a threat to diversity that ought to be rejected by those who care for the biological and ecological diversity.
The genetic plants would also lead to the emergence of secondary pests. In China, Mirids have eroded any meaningful progress made by the discoveries. This is particularly in the cultivation of Bt cotton (Hankinson, 1997). The development of super weeds causes strain in the use of resources and time to fight the weeds. It raises the cost of agriculture and, therefore, renders it an expensive exercise to undertake. Food security would hence be compromised given the state of events.
Cloning in animals, through genetic engineering, has raised several ethical issues. It defeats the role on natural birth. Such animals reproduced through cloning have a weak immune system and end up perishing quickly. The combination of genes even between kingdoms leads to development of animals that are so unpredictable. Dealing with them is, therefore, a complex exercise. For example, there arises debate whether consumption of such animal products is safe or not. Then which animal results from the combination? These are some of the complexities that result from genetic engineering.
Genetic engineering has had immense influence on the lives of human kind, albeit on the field of food production. On the positive side, many beneficial effects include disease resistant products like papaya modified to resist Ring spot Virus. Cooking oil is also mainly produced from genetic engineering knowledge and some other notable benefits (Morange, 2009). However, the negative effects too must be addressed, since their repercussions can be dire if not appropriately dealt with. Some products cause allergies and infections. Cancer is suspected to be caused by GMO foods. The compromise to diversity and environmental concerns pose the question of the appropriateness of the products. These negative effects require further investigations and study for solutions. Otherwise, this technology would not be useful with the dire consequences of the use of the genetically modified products.
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